Tuesday, 23 November 2010

Crossing the Cook Straights

After a couple of wonderful days in Wellington, we decided it was finally time to relocate from the North Island to the South Island. All the while people kept telling us the South Island would be more beautiful, so there was no turning back now.

We checked the possibilities to cross the Cook Straights, the name of the sea between the two main New Zealand islands. The easiest way is to go by plane to Christchurch. However we wanted to take our roachmobile, so we had to stick to the alternative: the Cook Straight Ferry.

There currently are two companies operating ferries between Wellington (North Island) and Picton (South Island): The Interislander and Bluebridge. The first one departs some kilometres outside of Wellington right next to the motorway. It's a bit tricky, because if you miss the exit to the ferry, you have to continue on the motorway around 20 km to the next township before you can turn around and try again. The second one Bluebridge departs right from the centre of Wellington next to the railway station.

We decided for the second one. We made our booking two days in advance, but in the main tourist season (December till March) you are well advised to make the booking around one week ahead.

So we drove our roachmobile to the ferry terminal, waited in a line of cars and drove our van right into the belly of the giant ferry. There we were pointed to a parking space, advised to pull the handbrake tight and lock the car. Then we left the belly for the upper decks and could enjoy the rest of the trip. After eating a little lunch, we went over to explore our ship:
The ferry had a lounge with a movie being played, a little restaurant and a cafe/bar. There were plenty of couches and, on the highest deck, some rooms with beds which seemed available to use when empty. But the coolest thing, of course, was the observation deck where you could enjoy the view from the ferry and the sea breeze.

The most beautiful sight on the short journey (3-4h) were the Cook Straights. Before laying anchor in Picton the ferry had to cross several kilometres of amazing inland fjords (also called sounds). In Wellington we bought a little spyglass, which we made ample use here taking a closer look of the mainly uninhabited sounds. So in the end it was a really pleasant and interesting journey and a nice change to flying.

*harr* and of course your little pirates Bilge Rat and Scallywag were clad to be on board of a ship again sailing the seven seas to plunder *harr*
Avast ye landlubbers!

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